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Understanding Gloss Level Measurement

August 1, 2017

When it comes to selecting sheen levels for decorative coatings, don’t rely solely on a name which doesn’t provide an exact value and can vary significantly across brands and manufacturers.  Without getting into the mind-boggling mathematics behind the science of gloss measurement, here’s what you need to know to avoid getting caught out.

Get the Gloss Level off the Technical Data Sheet (TDS)
Glossy paint reflects a lot of light and so seems shiny though this varies depending on the angle of the observer.  The TDS most frequently lists ‘Gloss at 60°’, as 60° is the angle used to measure the amount of light reflected. (In some cases, a 20° angle is used for very high gloss and 85° angle for very low gloss.)

The amount of light reflected is then measured and expressed as a number or a range from 0-100 Gloss Units (GU) where 0 would be absolutely dead flat and 100 being very shiny.

A typical range for architectural coatings at 60° value is as follows:

Gloss Range 60° value
Flat 0-5
Eggshell 5-15
Satin 15-25
Semi-Gloss 25-60
Gloss 60-80
High Gloss 80 +

Be Careful with Colour
The sheen or the glossiness of the paint will affect how the colour is perceived. Gloss colours normally appear darker and richer than lower sheen paints.  So yes, if you are using the same colour in multiple sheens, they will not appear exactly the same.

Seeing is Believing
If your customer is sensitive to the slightest variation in sheen, it might be best to request a ‘paint out’ either on a card or on the required substrate.

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Check out our other great articles in this August edition of Paint Pro!

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Good Practice: The Problem with Touch-Ups

Health & Safety: Oh Boy – Back Pain!

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How To: Painting New Galvanized Metal


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